Some Cambridge students were shown a string of characters from the Persian language mixed in with similar shapes that had no meaning. When the students, who had no knowledge of Persian, later tried to reproduce these characters from memory, they were far more successful with the real ones than with the nonsense characters.
Is it possible that the millions of Persians who had been drawing those characters for centuries created a worldwide force field, a kind of resonance, that guided the students’ hands?….
The object was to [test] Dr. Rupert Sheldrake’s startling Theory of Formative Causation: the idea that learning is contagious; that any repeated behavior forms an energy field, a “morphic resonance,” that covers the globe and makes it easier for others to learn the behavior….
Evidence has been around for years. In 1920, a Harvard laboratory timed rats running through a maze. It found that after 22 generations, the rats found the solution almost 10 times faster… even the stupid ones. Later the same maze was used in Australia and Scotland, and a totally unrelated new generation of rats solved the maze still faster.
Chemists are familiar with the fact that a new compound is difficult to crystallize when first synthesized. But each time after that, it gets easier….
— Michael Kernan, “Is Learning Contagious?” in the Washington Post 7/9/86